University of Oulu

Leiviskä, A. (2023), Truth, Moral Rightness, and Justification: A Habermasian Perspective on Decolonizing the University. Educ Theory, 73: 223-244.

Truth, moral rightness, and justification : a Habermasian perspective on decolonizing the university

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Author: Leiviskä, Anniina1
Organizations: 1Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-21


In this paper, Anniina Leiviskä examines the moral, political, and epistemic claims of the social justice movement known as “decolonizing the university” from the perspective of Jürgen Habermas’s distinction between objective and normative validity and the respective notions of truth and moral rightness. Leiviskä challenges the view, held by some representatives of decolonization, that the normative and epistemic claims of the movement are inseparable from each other and suggests that evaluating the justification of the movement requires holding these claims at least analytically distinguishable. She argues that while the moral and political claims of “decolonizing the university” find strong justification through Habermas’s discourse morality, its epistemic claims, especially the rejection of shared standards of knowledge, might have epistemically problematic consequences. Accordingly, Leiviskä suggests here that the epistemic justification of decolonization is conditional on the acceptance of shared epistemic standards — the pragmatic truth concept and the criterion of impartiality — which she develops in the paper on the basis of Habermas’s pragmatic theory of truth and rational discourse as a model of justification. Finally, she proposes that the implications of these criteria for practices of higher education and the curriculum should be determined through an open and unconstrained discussion by the members of an inclusive university community.

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Series: Educational theory
ISSN: 0013-2004
ISSN-E: 1741-5446
ISSN-L: 0013-2004
Volume: 73
Issue: 2
Pages: 223 - 244
DOI: 10.1111/edth.12575
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
520 Other social sciences
Copyright information: © 2023 The Author. Educational Theory published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Board of Trustees, University of Illinois. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.